• Common Cranes

Extremadura, Spain

Cranes, Bustards, Sandgrouse and Vultures!

  • Duration

    5 November 2023 to 11 November 2023

  • Location

    Extremadura (Spain)

  • Led by

    David Lindo – The Urban Birder

  • Group size

    up to 8 participants

  • For assistance with booking flights

    please contact Sacha Barbato at Travel Counsellors
    +44 (0)1603 360 099

  • Price

    £1,500 per person plus flight

  • Single supplement


  • Deposit

    £300 per person

  • Remaining balance due 60 days before travel start date

    Second Payment: 05/09/2023

  • Please contact us if you have any other queries

    Email: tours@theurbanbirderworld.com

Free loan of Leica Ultravid binoculars is available for the duration of the tour – subject to availability.

Please ask for details.

About Spain

Spain is by far the most well known destinations in Europe when it comes to wildlife and it brings in birders from all over the world.

Extremadura is perhaps the best region in Spain for birding. Situated inland in the southwest of Spain, the region butts onto the border of Portugal. At twice the size of Wales the region is sparsely populated with just over a million inhabitants.

The local currency is the Euro.

Tour overview

Extremadura, although well known by British birders, is one of the least known regions of Spain – even by the Spaniards. The area is twice the size of Wales and is indeed, Spain’s biggest secret.

The region is traditionally known as spring venue for birding and wildlife watching but the autumn and winter are nevertheless rewarding times to visit. Although most of the summer visitors like the Lesser Kestrels may have left there is some autumn passage continuing and the winter visitors are arriving. Indeed, as a whole Extremadura has the richest winter birdlife of any region in Spain and the most individual wintering birds than almost anywhere else in Western Europe. One of the lasting impressions visitors will have of Extremadura is of the sheer number of birds, everywhere.

Extremadura boasts a wonderful variety of habitats ranging from mixed-farming plains to open managed woodland pasture where the famous Iberian pigs roam free-range, deep rocky valleys, irrigated lands, reservoirs and mountains. Added to this mix are the beautiful towns and villages that are steeped in history and great for wildlife. During the time of this tour the landscape will be turning green after the summer drought with beautiful autumn flowers in bloom attracting the remaining butterflies and dragonflies that are still present.

The speciality resident steppe species like the Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse will be findable. Winter flocks of Stone Curlew gather making them much easier to see than during the spring. Passage waders like Black-tailed Godwits and waterfowl like geese will be moving through the rice- fields where the harvest will be starting, inducing feeding frenzies amongst the egrets, storks and gulls that follow the combines and tractors.

The autumn is a very special time within Spain’s fifth biggest region. At this time year the region’s signature bird – the elegant Common Crane – is to be found abundantly frequenting the rice fields and dehesas (cork oak woodlands). Their musical and wild bugling calls can sometimes fill the air as nervous flocks consisting of family parties take to the skies as they traverse to their feeding areas. An important portion of the world’s population, in excess of 150,000 birds, choose to winter in Extremadura, where the locals welcome them with open arms. Indeed, their grace and elegance has been well appreciated and celebrated throughout the ages and the Spanish affectionately call them, “Damas Grises” – Ladies in Grey.

Meanwhile, at the world famous Monfragüe National Park, Red Deer will be rutting with Griffon and Black Vultures drifting over their heads. Whilst indulging in those sights and sounds there is a good chance for viewing a local Golden or Iberian Imperial Eagles.

During the tour we will visit the charity AMUS to see their amazing work running a bird hospital. The return to Madrid will include an en route visit to the Embalse de Arrocampo, one of the top birding hotspots of the region.

Expected birds

  • Black Vulture
  • Black Wheatear
  • Black-bellied Sandgrouse
  • Black-winged Kite
  • Black-winged Stilt
  • Blue Rock Thrush
  • Bluethroat
  • Bonelli’s Eagle
  • Calandra Lark
  • Cetti’s Warbler
  • Common Crane
  • Crested Lark
  • Eurasian Spoonbill
  • Golden Eagle
  • Great Bustard
  • Great Egret
  • Griffon Vulture
  • Iberian Grey Shrike
  • Iberian Magpie
  • Little Bustard
  • Little Owl
  • Penduline Tit
  • Pin-tailed Sandgrouse
  • Rock Sparrow
  • Spanish Imperial Eagle
  • Spanish Sparrow
  • Spotless Starling
  • Stone Curlew
  • Thekla’s Lark
  • Western Swamphen
  • White Stork


NB. The sequence of places visited may alter to take into account changes in the weather.

November 5 – Arrive in Madrid Airport

After an early afternoon arrival we will transfer to Extremadura in a comfortable minibus. Journey time approximately 3 hours.

Overnight stay for the duration of the tour at Casa Rural El Recuerdo, our tranquil and rural base near Trujillo, in the province of Cáceres, Extremadura.

November 6 – the rice fields of central Extremadura

We start the holiday exploring the areas of irrigated farm land in the centre of Extremadura. This is where the largest concentrations of Common Cranes can be found, and we will find large flocks of this wonderful bird. The area is also excellent for waders and birds of prey, especially harriers. We will not overlook the reed-filled ditches where we may find Bluethroat.

Dinner at Casa Rural El Recuerdo. Overnight stay at Casa Rural El Recuerdo.

November 7 – Monfragüe National Park

This will be a day spent in the iconic Monfragüe National Park: a superb site for raptors, rock dwellers like Rock Bunting and Blue Rock Thrush, woodland species such as Hawfinch, Firecrest and Crested Tit. We will stay out until dusk for the chance of Eagle Owl.

Dinner at Casa Rural El Recuerdo. Overnight stay at Casa Rural El Recuerdo.

November 8 – the plains of Trujillo

We will visit the plains and river valleys west of Trujillo. We will be on the lookout for Great and Little Bustards, Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Griffon and Black Vultures, hopefully eagles like Spanish Imperial plus, Calandra, Crested and Thekla’s Larks, flocks of Corn Bunting and Spanish Sparrow and hopefully Rock Sparrow.

Dinner at Casa Rural El Recuerdo. Overnight stay at Casa Rural El Recuerdo.

November 9 – Zorita Plains, Alange and Mérida

We will start the day visiting the plains south of Zorita for more bustards and other steppe birds. Lunch will be had south of Mérida at Alange where we will scout for Black Wheatear and hopefully find Bonelli’s Eagle. Finally, we will spend an afternoon in Mérida, the capital city of Extremadura, focusing on birding from the Roman Bridge to spot egrets and Penduline Tit. At 790 metres, the Roman Bridge is longest surviving Roman bridge in the world. It straddles the Guadiana River in the heart of the city and is also probably the best place in Extremadura to see Western Swamphen (formally known as Purple Swamphen).

Dinner at Casa Rural El Recuerdo. Overnight stay at Casa Rural El Recuerdo.

November 10 – Montijo area and Cornalvo Natural Park

After breakfast, we will head to the Montijo area, close by to Mérida, to visit a few sites notably looking for waders and waterfowl at the several waterbodies in the area. We will also have a chance for Black-winged Kite at Embalse de Canchales.

After lunch, we will travel east to Cornalvo – a huge park on Mérida’s doorstep. It is a mixture of farmland, dehesa, reservoirs and scrub and is home to Woodlarks, Little Owls, Corn Buntings and breeding Black-winged Kites. There should be some ploughed fields to scan for Golden Plovers. We will spend the remainder of the afternoon traversing its varied terrain seeing whatever we find.

Dinner at Casa Rural El Recuerdo. Overnight stay at Casa Rural El Recuerdo.

November 11 – back to Madrid and home

After breakfast, we will transfer to Madrid for the flight home via a brief visit to the Embalse de Arrocampo. This area of reservoirs is one of the hotspots of the region and is great for finding Western Swamphen, Water Rail, Bluethroat and possible Bearded Tits.

Special trip notes

The tour will depart from Madrid Terminal 1 at 1400hrs so it is imperative that participants arrange to arrive at the airport before that time. Indeed, you should aim to book flights that arrive at the airport by 1300hrs.

For the return flight, clients should book flights departing after 1500hrs on the final day.

This trip is suitable for all ages and abilities.

The pace of this tour will gentle. We will let the wildlife come to us

In Extremadura most of the region’s rain falls during the spring and autumn. The temperature will be warm and we can anticipate a chance of rain, but we should also be able to enjoy some sunshine as well.

Recommended literature

  • Collins Bird Guide – Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney & Dan Zetterström
  • Crossbill Guide for Extremadura

Book now

  • Duration: 5 November 2023 to 11 November 2023
  • Price: £1,500 per person plus flight
  • Single supplement: £140
  • Deposit: £300 per person
  • Remaining balance due 60 days before travel start date

    Second Payment: 05/09/2023

  • Group size: up to 8 participants
  • For assistance with booking flights

    please contact Sacha Barbato at Travel Counsellors
    +44 (0)1603 360 099

  • Please contact us if you have any other queries

    Email: tours@theurbanbirderworld.com

Cranes, Bustards, Sandgrouse and Vultures!

— 5 November 2023 to 11 November 2023 —

Led by David Lindo – The Urban Birder


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Price includes

  • Full board accommodation.
  • Drinks and meals.
  • Transport in a comfortable minibus.
  • The services of your guide David Lindo – The Urban Birder
  • The optional loan of a pair of sexy Leica binoculars for the duration of the tour – subject to availability –

Price does not include

  • Airline tickets and airport taxes
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Entry fees to monuments and museums (if desired)
  • Incidental refreshments at cafes and bars, plus all additional drinks


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I’m slowly coming back down to earth after my trip, I was quite knocked out by Extremadura. Everything about it was good – the accommodation & food, the company, your knowledge, and the birds of course. So thank you, and you’ll likely see me on another trip sometime.

Polly Taylor(Edinburgh, Scotland)

The tour was more amazing than I expected

Lilian Holmes(Birmingham, London)

Ashley and I wanted to thank you so much for guiding us on that wonderful tour in Extremadura last week. Your knowledge and expertise were truly amazing and we really enjoyed seeing so many new birds – BIMBOS!

Anthea & Ashley Edgar(Cambridge, England)

It really was an excellent weeks birding: the welcome from David and Martin, the group of such lovely people who all got on so well together. The trips around the Extremadura countryside, the evenings, the food and drink, Martin and Claudia’s hospitality, David and Martin’s knowledge and of course, not forgetting the birds all made it a very worthwhile experience. I’m very glad I came on it. I shall tell every one at home how good it was.

John Lilley(Essex, England)

Thank you a really enjoyable few days, lots of birds, lots of wine, very nice accommodation really nice group.

Mike Beer(Cheltenham, England)

Just to let you know I really enjoyed the week’s birding in Extremadura. I felt really welcome since we met at the airport. It was great to benefit from the in depth knowledge both you and Martin had of the birds in the area and it was nice to have the company of other birders in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

James Walsh(Leeds, England)

The whole package was just great. Casa rural El Recuerdo was a superb place to stay and we couldn’t have been looked after any better. The company was amazing, light hearted birding at its best, just what we wanted! We especially enjoyed the Alpine Swifts and Spanish Imperial Eagles. So pleased we visited AMUS (conservation centre & wildlife Hospital) too and we’re now able to support their valuable work.

Louise & Jim Bentley(Bolton, England)